Archive for July, 2009

My Lunch with Julia

In light of all the recent hype of the upcoming movie ~Julie & Julia, I finally forced myself to start to read the book, sadly to say I have only got to page 146, after 2 weeks.  I usually tear through a book in a day or 2.

Thank god, I only spent $8.00 on a paperback. Well the jury is out on this until I actually plow my way through to the end,so until then, no comment.

It did get me to thinking of of when I met Julia Child, made her lunch, and had a cocktail with her. I was a young culinary student in Paris and the school I was attending often invited well known culinary genius’s to lunch. For fun. Not our fun mind you fun.

So, at school one day, Chef says we will have a guest or 2, fine, no problem. He says Victoria! pastry station. I crumble, I was terrible back then, had no patience for the art and science of pastry making, not any more, but woohoo that one got my blood moving. Chef Albert, our pastry chef, who secretly liked to squeeze my butt, said, oh shit, (merde) come here! He had a ball of dough, which he made a nipple on, said “Sophie Loren”, then he smacked it down flat! Said Sophie Lorens grandmother! Point being, he made me laugh, and relaxed me enough so I could not care less who I was cooking for.

Short, long story growing even longer..I was supposed to make a classic chocolate mousse, I thought, how many fucking ( though I never swore back then) chocolate mousses has she had to endure!

So, I went to my pantry, had made custard & genoise the day before, plus a framboise compote, so I made creme chantilly, crumbled genoise , drizzled w/ grand marnier, and topped w/ my compote between the layers, and fresh whipped cream. It was light, super delicious with just enough booze to make one say Hell Yah! An american bastardized version of trifle, who cares! It rocked.

Simone Beck snorted at me, fuck her. Julia Child was like , well that was truly delightful! If u have ever met met her, you would know that is something she would totally have said.

Then she said what part of Paris are you living in? I said the 7th arrondissment, 104 Rue De L’Universite! She said oh shit! Paul and I lived on Rue De  L’Universite ,  lets go to the corner tabac and have a glass, just us girls. ( If  you have ever met her Julia was not shy with her vocabulary!)

That was my lunch & conversation , my first, but not my last, with Julia Child! She urged me to go pound on James Beards door in Greenwich Village when I returned to New York. But alas by that time the man was quite ill and no longer involved in the culinary adventures of young students.

She was a class act. Never to been seen again! I am honoured to have fed her & traded quips. Sleep well, JC.

J.B.G. by Alizée

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While they were incredible at Hartford, one must believe after seeing them last night at Madison Square Garden, that it was only a “warm ” up show for landing in New York City.

And what a show it was! First up, The Kaiser Chiefs rocked the house. Those pathetic peeps who do not know that this British band, is amazing, well that is their loss. Any way Ricky & Co played 8 songs (sadly, not enough, but I will take it) to get the audience pumped for Green Day.

Then promptly at 9 pm the sound of~ Sing us a song of the Century, stage still dark, coming through the speakers, oh crap! Billie Joe, Tre Cool & Mike Dirnt just blew it out of the proverbial water for the next 3 hours!

I don’t know where to begin. So here is last nights set list at MSG July 28th 09.

Song of the Century~ 21st Century Breakdown ~ Know your Enemy ~ Murder City ~ East Jesus Nowhwere ~Holiday ~ Static Age ~ Before the Lobotomy ~ We are the Waiting ~ St.Jimmy ~ Boulevard of Broken Dreams !!~ A quick Bite (while he is away) ~Hitchin a Ride !~Welcome to Paradise ~ Stop, Drop & Roll (Eff ME! The Foxboro Hot Tubs).

Eye of the tiger ( survivior cover), F.O.D,  When I come Around, Going to Pasalaqcqua, Stuart and the Ave, Who wrote Holden Caulifield, Iron man, Basket Case, She, King for a Day, Shout, Earth Angel, Christie Road, I’ll be There, 21 Guns, American Eulogy.

Encore: American Idiot, Jesus of Suburbia , Dearly Beloved,  Minority

2ND Encore:

Macy’s Day Parade, Say I love you, Good Riddiance (time of your life).

In all 38, yes count em, 38! songs. Everything from old to new & some fun tossed in there too! As for the little kid who got up on stage to play Mike Dirnt’s bass, and to  whom Billie Joe asked if he tweeted,( to which I promptly did!) Hello Twitterverse!

He has a rock star career in his future, when he grabbed the mike and said Thank You, Madison Square Garden, with BJ & Mike & Tre just standing there smiling and laughing, then BJ gave him the bass, well, you just had to be there! And I was!

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Okay this has zip to do with food, but hey it’s my blog, so I can write whatever I want! HA, okay not to be a bitch, or something , this will be a 2 parter.

First up, saw Green Day in Hartford at the XL center on Friday eve. We decided to stay the night, and once again the Hilton Hartford was just not equipped to deal with mass amounts of people! Let alone feed them! I was not in the mood for the  drive back home, (only about 65 minutes) after 11pm. Considering  Green Day played for over 3 hours, as they did not even leave the stage til after midnight,  it was a good call on my part.

Glad I booked the room! Brought snacks, and Guinness or we would have starved. Did try to have a munch in hotel cafe, abysmal, I even twit pic’d it. YUK! $30.00 for a caesar salad, order of cold fries, 4 dead right out of the box chicken fingers, god help the chef who is the EC of that hotel! He should be shot.

But then Billie Joe Armstrong & Tre Cool walked right by me, turned around, and smiled gave me  thumbs up! I am surprised I did not faint! Mind was so in shock, could not even think to get my iphone out! Just stood there with this other chick, our mouths hanging open, going OH My God! Her husband in the elevator on the way back up to our rooms, said you 2 are such groupies! I said, no I’m not! Wait, Yes I am!

So we went to the center, tickets said 8 pm, it was like 8:15 and I am buying Green Day swag and we hear THE BRAVERY say, okay 2 more songs! F…me! We caught their last 2 songs, but dang they were only on stage for 20 mins? was up?

Tomorrow is the Kaiser Chiefs, my 2nd favourite band in the world, so we will be at the garden EARLY!

The Set List For Green Day @ Hartford is as follows:

Song of the century ~ 21st century breakdown ~ Know your enemy ~ East jesus nowhere~ Holiday ~  Static age ~ Before the lobotomy ~ We are the waiting ~ St.jimmy ~Boulevard of broken dreams ~ Dominated love slave ~ Hitchin a ride ~ Welcome to paradise ~ Only of you ~ Christie road ~F.O.D ~ Brain stew~ Jaded ~ Longview ~ Basket case~ She ~ King for a day ~ I’ll be there ~ Stand by me ~ Shout ~ 21 guns ~ American eulogy!

Then the encore!

American Idiot ~ Jesus of Suburbia ~ City of the Damned ~Minority ~ Last night on earth ~ Good riddance/time of  your life.

33 songs in all, my mind was blown! Good thing the Guinness was chilling in the sink back at the hotel room!


Guinness lost its wrapper in sink of ice. Think plunko ate it! nom nom nom!

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It’s finally here! Crisp butter and sugar sugar corn, golden sweet and delicious! But it won’t last long with torrential buckets of rain on the way, so the time to buy is right now. Don’t delay! No excuses, or you will only have yourself to blame, when staring into an empty freezer in the dead of winter.

What to look for ~ a farm stand or small market that gets a daily delivery, preferably of corn just picked that morning. Nice tight husks, soft and green dry, not wet or black tassels. My advice, when in doubt, peel one out!  As Ripley once said  in the movie Aliens, its the only way to be sure!  Look for plump golden kernels, no brown spots, nothing soft or wet. Please, do not buy prepackaged pre shucked corn.

What to avoid ~ super large grocery stores like Stew Leonard’s or Costco or BJ”s. YUK ~ It will most likely be from Florida, or upstate NY, not a bad thing, but no guarantees, and at least a week old. Corn starts to deteriorate hours after picking, as the sugars turn to starch. Bird Food!

Now that you finally have your jewels of gold home,  peel some husks, lay in the bottom of a very large pot, add corn, cover with water, sprinkle with tiny amount salt and sugar. Cover. Bring to a boil, turn off heat, let stand 10 minutes. Like making a hard boiled egg, only better.

Remove ear from pot, sprinkle with kosher salt & fresh black pepper, smear tiny amount sweet cream butter, eat, preferably over the sink.

For those who are more adventurous, take your corn, brush with butter, sprinkle with cumin and chili powder, wrap in foil and toss on the grill while making the rest of the evenings meal. Ta Da!

Amoreena by Elton John

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While I sit here twiddling my thumbs until Top Chef Masters comes on at 10pm, she groans,  figured I may as well be some what productive. With Twitter over capacity and the fail whale popping up why not! In light of yesterdays over indulgence of cocktails, ouch, but ohh so enjoyable, started to compile a list of my fondest foodie flicks.  Requirements only need to be a great food or drink scene, and a cool musical soundtrack doesn’t hurt either.

So here we go, sorry if something did not make the “cut” so to speak, these are just my  personal pics.

Who is Killing the Great Chef’s of Europe?  Jaqeuline Bisset as a pastry chef & Eric Segal as a wannabe omelet fast food king = hilarious.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show, seconds on meatloaf anyone?

Rare Birds with William Hurt, Newfoundland, bird watching, failed restaurant, mountains of coke, no not the fizzy variety.

Uncle Buck with John Candy, who wouldn’t enjoy pancakes the size of a garbage can lid!

The Wedding Banquet, Ang Lee’s ode to the feast.

Bridget Jones Diary ~ blue soup, enough said.

Last Tango in Paris, butter will never be viewed the same.

Tampopo, dumplings anyone?

Simply Irresistible ~Sarah  Michelle Gellar out of her Buffy persona. Simply adorable.

Spanglish, Adam Sandler’s late night egg sandwich, yes!

Oliver ~ please sir can I have some more?

Pleasantville, Joan Allen making a TV breakfast to send one running for the lipitor.

Any food scene in Hogwarts Dining Hall ~ or ~ in Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, think I want candy.

Ratatouille ~ No, not any one can cook!

The Little Mermaid ~ Zoot alors! I have missed one!

Wine favs ~ Bottle Shock  and Sideways ~ both have amazing soundtracks.  I personally LOVE merlot!

Bizarre food movies ~ Delicatessen and Soylent Green.

The obvious choices ~ My Dinner with Andre ~ Big Night ~ Chocolat ( just for Johnny).

The cocktail that was responsible for this was : A shot of Absolut, a shot of St. Germain, a splash of cranberry juice, topped with very good Champagne. Ice Cold.

Leave Before The Lights Come On by Arctic Monkeys

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All this remembering of years past has got me really thinking. Like when we first moved back to the East Coast. Not that I remember the first go around, was but wee thing when we left NYC for California.  A bit of a culture shock to say the least. Friends were like~ oh wow NYC is right next door! Yeah, right 1  hour and 20 minutes by train, door to door, providing all went according to plan.

My first trip into GCS ( that would be Grand Central Station), I thought, this truly bites~the big apple that is! Although, I soon came to see the error of my ways and appreciate all that NYC had to offer. Also, after realizing I could be in Manhattan in less than 45 minutes if I drove in, I fell in love with New York.

The amazing Jazz being played at clubs in the Village really made this summer something special. The Bottom Line, The Blue Note, The Village Vanguard, the bar at the Algonquin Hotel. Some truly memorable music. Most are gone now, a faded distant memory, but damn! It was a good time.

Dean & Delucca, the start of the NYC gourmet food world. Me, getting an overpriced hair cut ( I think it was $80.00) at the salon at Henri Bendels. My mother almost fainted when the credit card bill arrived, but hey! I looked super hot. Finding cute Japanese toys at FAO Schwartz ~ Hello Kitty! She had just recently landed state side, and was the cool ticket item. Got you immediate entry to the hip set.

Bloomingdales day of the week underwear, coveted by millions of women, plus those brown bloomies bags, a warm NYC pretzel. Times square when it was gritty and scary, before it became a mecca for Disney and MTV. Seeing a Chorus Line on Broadway.

My first incredible restaurant meal in NYC, it was salmon, tied in a knot. Thank you Marianne & Little Gray, what an evening that was! I will never forget it. Drinking, clubbing, art gallery openings, the parks, long walks, crashing in a friends studio/art room on Christopher street.

Gone but not forgotten, Chock Full O’ Nuts Coffee Shops, Brew & Burger, getting on a non air conditioned subway car ( this does still happen), going by the Dakota  to see where John Lennon lived and died. Spending the night in the Plaza Hotel, having late afternoon tea, and then cocktails in Trader Vics! ( the birth place of my nic name! aka Vic!)

Carriage ride through Central Park, seeing Yes at Madison Square Garden, visiting Arista Records with my best friend ( her dad was a vp), couldn’t tell you who I met, but the swag was cool. Going up in the crown of the Statue of Liberty, before they closed it. ( it did just reopen).

Oh, what a short, sweet summer it was. Then college beckoned and my first fling with NYC was at an end. But it has another chapter to tell.

Acid Jazz Singer by The Fratellis

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After my recent ponderings of life’s little mysteries and pleasures, one of my best brings me back to summers on Cape Cod.  Born a New Yorker, raised in California and then venturing off to college and Paris, and various cities abroad and in the USA, the nomad in me had to be quenched. Namely, I moved back to coastal CT to raise my daughter. Just us!  A tag team of two.

So we started a  summer tradition, a trip to the Cape. When she was a toddler she was content with a tiny rental house, no AC, no TV, just a wading pool in the backyard and the joy of a warm outdoor shower ( the house had one). Going to the WellFleet drive-in clean and fresh in her pj’s to ride the swings on the playground and run around with the other kids. Only to fall asleep before the movie began. I think she most looked forward to the singing and dancing hot dog, soda and popcorn trailer.

For those who don’t know, the WellFleet Drive-in is one of the last in existence on the Eastern Seaboard. During the week in summer it hosts a huge outdoor flea market.  Things changed, she got older, the ocean no longer scared her so instead of spending the day at the Wellfleet harbour beach, we ventured to Nauset Light Beach in Eastham.  Gorgeous beach! Killer flight of stairs, especially coming back up lugging all ones beach gear!

We soon progressed to getting a hotel room for a week with an on site restaurant, heated pool,  hot tub, AC, HBO, Disney, pizza delivery, video arcade, bike trail, hotel bar ( for mom) clearly our priorities were evolving. Plus the movie theatre across the street had “rainy day” matinees. They were not current films, just whatever the theatre could procure to show for cheap. I remember someone admonishing me for taking her to see Edward Scissorhands, telling me it was not appropriate for one so young!  She was 5. I believed I replied with a” get stuffed.” La adores Tim Burton and all his movies, and I like to think that rainy day screening had something to do with her love of  film and all things dark and strange.

Now we get to the important part! Cape Cod Eats. My all time most favourite place, is Arnold’s Clam Shack on RT6. The belly clam roll, and mountain of thin crispy onion rings is worth the 4 hour drive up there. Trust me.

Fluffy blueberry pancakes at The Lighthouse, Fra Diavlo at Serena’s, sadly no longer in business, a bucket of mussels at The Rookies, Van Renesslars for a super thick, juicy steak and the best salad bar on the planet, The Atlantic Spice Co for an amazing array of spices and odds & ends. The Bookstore on the harbour in wellfleet, with an actual antique bookstore around the back, road side stands selling beach plum jam, finding a desolate stretch of beach in Truro and having a picnic with goodies from The Wellfleet General Store.

Poits for a game of mini golf to be followed by a basket of fries and clams and a lobster roll. Flemings Donut Shack for warm sour cream donuts and the NYC Times on Sunday morning. Whale watching and people watching in P-Town.

Sadly, during our last trip, I got an amazing tan, La an amazing sunburn, and we spent most of our days at the pool  or watchingDVD’s. Time certainly had evolved. Before we left we went into P-Town, for one last wander, enjoyed a slice of pizza at Spiritus before heading home down RT6 and calling it a day. It was a very quiet drive back to CT, both of us lost in our own thoughts of what the Cape meant to us.

Swollen Summer by The Bravery

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Was out with a very good friend on Sunday when some how the conversation got around to my new found love ~ my food blog! B was like, Vic I am really surprised someone with your food background would be writing about Burgers and Hot Dogs and such. I said, why not? What does a 4 star chef eat on their proverbial day off?

When I was working 80 plus hours a week, it usually involved something that required no neurons, energy, or time. Like a PB&J ( Jiff, please) on a toasted Thomas’s english muffin, or a bowl of Quisp. Yes, remember that cereal? The blue box with the flying alien! Secretly, I think all dedicated chef’s are somewhat alien. Whatever, you can still find this in the odd grocery store, still the same captain crunchy type nuances.

So, why not burgers and dogs, who can’t appreciate that? Got me to thinking about my next favourite food, Taco’s! No, not Taco Bell, although that chain will be preserved forever in immortality in the movie Demolition Man. Google it, if you don’t get my drift.

I am talking about a great Fish Taco. First one I ever had was at a beach shack in Galveston, Texas. After a day of frolicking in the sun, surf and amazed at how warm the water was ( after only knowing the frigid Atlantic) it was the perfect ending to a very memorable day!

What makes a great Fish Taco? In my humble opinion very few, very simple, very fresh components.  Super fresh fish, including, but not limited to: Sole, scallops, lobster, shrimp, lump crab, walleye pike, barramundi, and burrata. Then some, avocado, tomato, red onion, jicima slaw & pico de gallo on the side, chopped fresh cilantro, and most importantly! Warm, fresh, homemade corn tortilla’s.

I like to lightly cornmeal crumb the fish, pan saute, assemble and  have ( an extra one or two) corn tortillas at the ready, to “help” clean up the plate and just munch out of hand.

If that doesn’t send you into food nirvana, well I don’t know what will. My beverage of choice? A super cold, Corona or a Tecate with a squeeze of lime. Not quite the same experience as a day at the beach being hedonistic, but very satisfying nonetheless.

By The Sea from Sweeny Todd with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter

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Farm Stand News

Ah fresh ripe juicy peaches ~ is there anything better? They are arriving in the  market now and are truly luscious. So do yourself, and some of your more well liked friends a favour and go get some, now!

I like to let a few sit on the windowsill of my back porch slowly getting warm from the late afternoon sun. Then I get a small bowl of sugar in the raw ( no domino will just not do here) another one of really good balsamic vinegar, and slice the peach into 8ths. Dip the warm peach in the sugar, then the balsamic, pop into your mouth, and savour! Just remember to lick your fingers as the juices and sweet fleshy goodness come together as one, exploding with flavor. Okay, this is starting to sound like peach food porn. Hey, that’s okay too! Think 91/2 weeks, only the actual season does not last that long.

I digress, she shakes head, comes back to planet earth. What to do after your warm , albeit orgasmic, summer peach? That’s easy. The obvious of course, a pie, cobbler, (homemade crusts, please), tiny fried empanadas dusted with powdered sugar, or my personal favourite, sliced, in a salad with fresh jumbo lump blue crab ( trust me on this one) over arugula, with spanish marconna almonds and a very simple flax seed & honey vinaigrette. It needs no other embellishment.  Except a glass of very cold veuve cliquot champagne.

Peaches remain supreme, this reminds me of when I met Alice Waters and Jeremiah Tower in Berkley, Ca. That my dear readers is another story in itself.

Until then, go enjoy the fresh peaches while you can, they will soon be but a memory, like a long lost love, before you know it.

Millions Of Peaches by The Presidents of The United States Of America

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Florida Heat

In light of a recent family loss, here are a few of my favorite things that make Florida, the Sunshine State, special. No, I do not mean the 5 pm early bird dinner! Nor, Julie Andrews singing in the Sound of Music. Just some good times.

Getting caught in a warm rain shower in the middle of the afternoon.

Driving to the Keys ~ that 7 mile bridge!

Deep fried Conch fritters & Key Lime Pie.

Celebrating a hot Miami night with friends drinking mojito’s and smoking Cuban cigars.

Lounging in a hammock reading Earnest Hemingway.

Busch Gardens ~ The Daytona 500 ~ Walt Disney World

Floribbean Cuisine & The Mango Gang!  Norman Van Aken, Douglas Rodriguez, Alan Susser, Cindy Hutson to name a few.

Brunch on the porch at the now defunct “Rose Tattoo Cafe” in Key West, enjoying  warm sour cream coffee cake with whipped sweet orange butter, and searing hot coffee! Long before Starbucks. Thanks, Julie Moon, a truly memorable time.

Getting a sun-kissed tan the old fashioned way, by lying on the beach covered in Hawaiian Tropic!

Cuban pressed pork sandwiches ~ Guava Pastries.

Miami Vice~ The clothes, those cars, that hair! Crockett & Tubbs.

Art Deco Hotels & Nightclubs in South Beach ~ The South Beach Food & Wine Festival.

Sending Man to the Moon.

Art Basel ~ which will commence 12/3-6/09

Last but certainly not least, Gloria Estefan & the Miami Sound-machine  ~ The Florida Everglades ~ Miami Dolphins!

R.I.P. Mr. G ~ 7/12/09

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